College Cousins: University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin

The University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin are two big schools with big school spirit. Not only do both stand out as two of the very most popular public institutions in the U.S., both Michigan and Wisconsin consistently rank among the top public research universities in the country. They are located in two of America’s greatest college towns — Ann Arbor, Michigan and Madison, Wisconsin. Each of these Midwestern giants has a long, proud tradition and, for undergraduates, each exemplifies the big university experience.

Both are big academically as well. Michigan has 19 schools and colleges, while Wisconsin has 20 in total; at each university, 14 of those schools and colleges offer undergraduate degrees. The Ann Arbor and Madison campuses are each the flagship liberal arts institution of the Michigan and Wisconsin university systems, respectively, but both schools also offer entire schools dedicated to business, engineering, public health, environmental studies, information and communications, nursing, public policy, and much more. Additionally, both universities have undergraduate general education requirements, ensuring a breadth of cross-discipline education.

Both are also first-rate research institutions that provide opportunities for students to participate in exciting research while developing their skill sets. At Michigan, freshmen and sophomores can take advantage of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), which offers school-year research experiences supervised by UM faculty; 10-week independent summer research projects; and funding to conduct and present research. Overall, more than 1,300 Michigan students are involved in research projects on such topics as genetic counseling, cycles in ocean sediments, nanoparticle detection, and experimental economics, just to name a few.

At Wisconsin, the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URS) helps freshmen and sophomores gain experience in research by working with faculty and staff. Each year, a symposium is held undergraduates present their findings. In 2019, for example, students presented in topics spanning art in climate justice movements, the developmental effects of prenatal Zika infection in primates, and public libraries in Latin America to yoga and athletic training, light microscopy in cell biology, and the adoption of solar energy adoption. Additional research projects are housed in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, which promotes innovate approaches to science and engineering through interdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships with the broader Wisconsin community.

Michigan and Wisconsin are home to two of the most accomplished college sports programs in the country, with the Wolverines and the Badgers competing in 27 and 23 varsity sports, respectively. The two Big Ten powerhouses have won more than sixty national championships between them, with both schools especially famous for their football, men’s basketball, and ice hockey programs.

Beyond the stadium, both Michigan and Wisconsin offer hundreds of activities and organizations and are home to vast Greek systems, and there is virtually limitless opportuntity for social, cultural, political, and athletic interaction on both campuses.

Both of these universities have rich histories, are perennially popular, and proudly represent their respective states. They also serve their students well and provide their students with a rich and exciting college experience.